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This hamlet contains many excellent houses belonging to opulent citizens, and places of worship for Dissenters. Dr. Samuel Chandler, an eminent scholar, and dissenting minister, was pastor of the congregation at Peckham in 1716. Here and in Camberwell are annual fairs, which are much resorted to from London.
From Peckham, through Camberwell to the Kent Road, and thence to the GRANGE and NECKINGER Roads, leads to ROTHERHITHE.
In the Kent Road, near New Cross, is the handsome villa of John Rolls, Esq. the front of which, on an eminence next the road, has a stately appearance, and the apartments and offices are elegant and convenient. The stair-case is of a peculiar construction, by Mr. Raffield, to every communication with the interior of the mansion. The grounds are finely laid out, and possess the additional gratification to the owner, that they were made out from the marsh land between Rotherbithe and Deptford.
The Grange Road is rendered worthy of notice for a place of public entertainment, denominated BERMONDSEY Spa, from a chalybeate spring discovered here in 1770. The premises had been famous before this period; they had been opened as tea gardens by Mr. THOMAS KEYSE, an ingenious self-taught painter, who exhibited in various parts of the gardens capital specimens of his pencil; among the rest a butcher's shop had all the appearance of reality. The great resort of company induced Mr. Keyse to procure a licence for opening his gardens with musical entertainments similarly to those at Vauxhall. His plan succeeded, and his ingenuity suggested various improvements, and among others, he entertained the public with an excellent representation of the Siege of Gibraltar, consisting of transparencies and fireworks, constructed and arranged by Mr. Keyse himself; the height of the rock was fifty, and the length two hundred feet; the whole of the apparatus covering about four acres of ground. After the death of this excellent artist and mechanic, Ber
mondsey Spa was rented by several adventurers, who all failed, and the premises have been converted to other purposes.
ROTHERHITHE, commonly called Rederiff, was antiently a village and marsh, to the south-east of London ; but now forms a vast suburb, though locally situated in the county of Surrey. It is said that the trench cut by Canute the Great, in order to besige the metropolis, began in this parish, and reached to Vauxhall. The channel through which the river was turned in the year 1173, for the purpose of rebuilding London Bridge, is supposed by Stow to have taken the same course.
The manor belonged to the abbot of Graces, who, with the permission of Richard II. granted it to the priory of Bermondsey, being then valued at 201. per annum. After its suppression it was seized by the crown, where it remained till Charles I. granted it to William White, and others. In 1672, it was in the possession of James Cecil, earl of Salisbury. It ultimately was possessed by general Goldsworthy, and has a court leet and court baron.
Such parts of this parish as are next the river are well inhabited by masters of ships, seafaring people, and tradesmen, depending upon navigation ; and, in general, the ground is covered with very handsome and substantial buildings.
On the 1st of June, 1765, a dreadful fire broke out in a mast-yard near the church, which in a few hours consumed upwards of two hundred and six houses. It also burnt the inside of a brig; but the wind driving the flames from the waterside, no other damage was done to the shipping. The fire was occasioned by a pitch-kettle boiling over. Great contributions were made in London for the relief of the sufferers: it exceeded the sums required to restore their losses.
To the east of Princes Street, near the Thames side, stands the parish church of
ST. MARY, ROTHERHITHE. THIS church is distinguished from others dedicated to the Virgin Mary, by the name of the place in which it is
situated. The old church had stood above two hundred years, when, in 1736, it was in so ruinous a condition that the inbabitants applied to parliament for leave to pull it down, which being granted*, the present structure was finished in 1739.
This edifice is built with brick, and ornamented with stone. It is enlightened by a double range of windows, and the corners both in the tower and body are strengthened with a bandsome rustic. The tower, in which are eight bells, consists of two stages: in the lower are a door and window; in the upper a window and dial; and the whole is terminated by a balustrade, from which rises a circular base that supports a kind of lanthorn, very elegantly constructed with Corinthian columns; over these are urns with flames; and from the roof of this lantborn rises a well-constructed spire, terminated by a ball and fane. This church is a rectory, in the gift of a lay patron.
The only monument worthy of particular notice is in the church-yard, with the following inscription:
“ To the memory of Prince Lee Boo, a native of the Pelew, or Palas Islands, and son to Abba Thulle, rupack or king of the island Goo-roo-raa, who departed this life on the 27th of December 1784, aged twenty years; this stone is inscribed by the Honourable East India Company, as a testimony of the humane and kind treatment afforded by his father to the crew of their ship the Antelope, captain Wilson, which was wrecked off that island in the night of the 9th of August, 1783.
Stop, reader, stop, let Nature claim a tear,
A Prince of mine, Lee Boo, lies buried here. An account of this amiable prince is given in Mr. Ķeate's interesting narrative of captaiu Wilson's adventures at the Pelew Islands.
A passage under the Thames is now (February 1808) forming from Rotherhithe to Limehouse, under the sanction of an act of parliament, and the management of Mr. R. Trevethick, the ingenious inventor of an “improved steam engine," one of which, of thirty-horse power, con
* Stat. 11. Geo. II. c. 13. Vol. V. No. 101.
strueted by Harledine, of Bridgenorth, in Shropshire, is erected to lift the water which drains into the works. There is no doubt but that this water issues from the drainage of the surrounding country, and not from the river under which it passes ; for it is ascertained, that the river is sustained by a mass of clay, impervious to water, about sixteen to twenty feet in thickness. Under this, and through which the tunnel passes, the stratum varies, being at the entrance a running sand, towards the middle a hard compact limestone with intermixture of iron-ore, generally in the form of branches of trees, yet so rich with iron, as to yield solb. on an assay. The present tunnel is intended for foot passengers only, to be of an elliptical form, eleven feet diameter, to be secured by cast metal segments, so as to render it completely water tight. The passage under the river is about six hundred feet, which will be lighted with lamps at proper distances; the passages to it at the ends are about three hundred feet each. These are intended to remain open, though at the entrance of the archway the height of the walls will be upwards of forty feet. The draining way under the river is effected, the time which it took up was little more than six months. It is conjectured that the archway will be completed in a year from the present date, for foot passengers. Thus will a footway be established between the opposite sides of this important river, where a bridge would have ruined the navigation. Indeed it is worth considering whether this principle cannot be put in practice in other situations, where bridges now appear difficulties to the accommodation of the metropolis.
Near the extremity of Rotherhithe parish are the docks for the Greenland ships. “A profitable nuisance,” says Pennant, “ very properly removed to a distance from the capital.” The great dock is supposed to have been the mouth of Canute's 'canal before mentioned.
We now enter the County of Kent, and it is necessary that some account should be given of this extensive district, as far as consists with the present object of this work.
The county of Kent, forms the south-eastern angle of the British island, and is bounded on the north by the Gerinan ocean, and the river Thames; on the west by Surrey ; en the south by Sussex; and on the east by the Downs and Straits of Dover. It is of an irregularly quadrilateral figure, the shortest side towards Surrey, and the longest stretching along the Thaines and its mouth. The greatest breadth of the county is its eastern side; but it is considerably narrowed on its southern side, and its contents, according to the most accurate computation, are about one thousand four hundred square miles, or nine hundred thousand statute acres.
Two chains of hills run across Kent, from west to east; the whole northern side of the county consists of chalk, intermixed with Aints, with the exception of a line of marshes, or meadows, on the banks of the Thames, Medway, and other rivers. The Thames is equally bountiful to this as to many other counties, to which it serves in part of its course as a boundary. This noble river furnishes all the northern side of the banks with a border of rich marshes; serving also for the conveyance of the products of the neighbourhood to the metropolis, and other places.
The principal river however properly belonging to Kent, is the Medway, which rising from different heads on the borders of Surrey and Sussex, flows in a north-eastward direction to Maidstone, being first joined by the Beult, a considerable stream from the Weald, and then runs straight north to Rochester, at which city it again takes an eastern course, till it empties itself into the mouth of the Thames, between the isles of Shepey and Grain. A channel from it, called the Swale, completes the separation of the isle of Shepey from the main land. The Medway admits large men of war as far as Chatham, where its channel suddenly contracts. It is navigable, however, for large barges to Maidstone, and for smaller to Tunbridge.
The Darent is a rivulet springing near Sevenoaks, and Aows northward to Dartford, below which it mixes with the Thames in Long Reach, having been first joined by the CRAY.